The best 10 engineering inventions in the last 60 years

In the past half-century, scientific and technological advances have transformed our world.  Innovation has come at such a rapid pace in recent decades that it has transformed our world in ways only once imagined in science fiction. Engineers have shaped the technology of every generation and we’ve compiled some of the best engineering inventions since the 1950s.

Solar energy

The earliest solar cells and panels that were created were extremely inefficient and the energy conversation received from the sun stood under 1%. Russell Ohl, the inventor, created the silicon solar cell in 1941. In 1954, three American researchers Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chapin were able to create a solar panel that could the had the efficiency level of 6% with direct sunlight. Since, the power of solar energy has progressed and helped the planet’s environmental needs.

Bar Codes

In the 21st century, it seems almost bizarre to imagine products without barcodes, however, they were only invented in 1974! The first Universal Product Code (UPC) scanner was installed at a supermarket in Ohio with the first produced to be scanned with a bar code being a 10 pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

Communications satellite

In 1962, Teletsar launched the first active communication satellite. This satellite could amplify and retransmit incoming signals whereas previously satellites could only passively bounce signals back to earth. With this revolutionary engineering invention, President JFK was able to hold a press conference in Washington DC which was broadcasted live across the world.

The world wide web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989, becoming one of the most revered English inventors. He wrote the first web browser computer programme in 1990 while employed at CERN in Switzerland. The World Wide Web has become central to the development of the information age and is the primary tool that billions of people use to interact on the internet.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

There is much historical dispute concerning the invention of the MRI scan. Many believe that Raymond Damadian established the machine’s medical merit in 1973, when he first uses magnetic resonance to discern healthy tissue from cancer. Yet in 2003, the Nobel Prize for medicine went to Peter Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield for their discovery of this medicinal invention.


The Boeing 707-120 maiden flight as the world’s first successful commercial jet airliner took place in 1958. Travelling the world was made all the easier owing to this engineering invention. The first commercial jet flight was from New York to Paris.

Mobile Phones

The world’s first mobile phone call was made on April 3, 1973, when Martin Cooper, a senior engineer at Motorola called a rival telecommunications company. In 1983, Motorola released its first commercial mobile phone, known as the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x. The handset offered 30 minutes talk time, six hours standby, and could store 30 phone numbers, and was £2639.


The first laptop was invented by Adam Osbourne in 1981. It was called ‘Osbourne 1’ and cost $1,795. The first portable computer was a success, with sales reaching 10,000 units a month.

Integrated Circuit

The invention of the microchip had been attempted many times, however the successful manufacturing of integrated circuits was achieved by two scientists in 1958.  Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce revolutionised the modern world with all of digital technology being dependent on the integrated circuit.


The invention of the laser was a progression of sound theory. Theodore H. Maiman made the first working laser in 1960, and although at the time they weren’t sure how the laser would be used, it is now integral to our daily life, from DVD players to eye surgery.